Introduction

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Cultivating altruism — our aspiration

Despite the amazing advances in technology in the modern world, humans do not appear to have made comparable progress socially or emotionally, as is evidenced by our current epidemics of war, crime, violence, mental illness and substance addiction. In fact, our emphasis on economic and technological progress may be directly related to the social and familial ills we see in modern society.

Through accustoming your mind to a sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems.

The Dalai Lama offers us a profound blueprint for reorienting ourselves towards that which really matters. At the heart of what matters is the reality that everyone aspires to achieve happiness and avoid suffering.

Happiness derives not from wealth or progress but from an inner peace, one that each one of us must create for ourselves by cultivating the most profound human qualities such as empathy, humility and compassion, and by eliminating destructive thoughts and emotions such as anger and hatred.

From the foundation of such an an inner peace we can develop ethical discipline founded on true compassion, a motivation to practice love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness toward all, even those who would harm us.

For the Dalai Lama, we act ethically when we do what we know will bring happiness to ourselves and others. When we act towards others with a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all life, we recognize that everything we do affects others, that everything we do has a universal dimension.

In this course we explore some of the ways we can develop our heart and mind, cultivating a motivation to contribute to the well-being of others. How do we develop such compassion? We learn to cultivate those qualities such as empathy that contribute to inner peace and to eliminate the negative emotions which are obstacles to compassion.